Are you watching Cosmos?
I’ve only seen the first episode so far, and IT IS FASCINATING. Aside from the fact that Neil deGrasse Tyson seems like The Coolest (and I would have totally had a crush on him had the timing and circumstances been right),
it’s awesome and a good reminder of just how small we really are.
But not like in a depressing way. In an oddly comforting way. Hear me out.
Part of the first episode goes through the Cosmic Calendar, which is a way to illustrate the expanse of time so that we can get our heads around it. I couldn’t find a clip of the whole thing, but here is the beginning of the segment:
So, each day represents 40 million years, and each month represents over a billion years. Yikes.
From this article:
“In this scale, humans didn’t arise until the last day of the year, and modern civilization makes up about the last 14 seconds of the year. Everyone we have ever heard of lived in those 14 seconds, deGrasse Tyson says:
Every person you’ve ever heard of lies right in there. All those kings and battles, migrations and inventions, wars and loves, every thing in the history books happened here in the last seconds of the cosmic calendar.”
That’s mind-blowing, right?
Here’s what I find comforting about it:
Lifetimes have been lived before I was even thought about. An entire universe has been unfolding for billions and billions of years. In the very, very, very grand scheme of things, I am incredibly small.
The fact that I’m alive at all is statistically improbable and lucky. I am here. I get to be here. For whatever reasons and whatever brought life to this point, I get to experience this. The fact that I’m tiny doesn’t mean my life doesn’t matter. I think it actually means it matters quite a bit, in that I should probably try to do the best I can and enjoy. I exist on this planet, in this universe, and have every right to live and enjoy and love and be loved and everything else.
Why spend the short time I have worrying about my beard? Or much of anything else? And, if others are worried about those things about me, it ultimately doesn’t matter.
Thinking about this has felt really freeing!